Nobody likes to write a research paper, but there’s this great thing called the Internet (or if you’re my grandmother, “tha Internets”) featuring an abundance of resources that have made the process easier and have made trips to a brick-and-mortar library less and less necessary (unless you have a crush on the librarian, which would explain your front-row seat at story time). Here are 17 of the very best websites when it comes time to research that big school paper.
Reprints a wealth of information from other sources — such as Wikipedia, Encyclopedia Britannica, the American Heritage Dicationary, QuotationsBook.com, Who2.com and the All Movie Guide — in one convenient location.
Home to thousands of books, from fiction to poetry to biographies, plus a great selection of reference books such as Gray’s Anatomy, Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, Roget’s Thesaurus, The World Factbook and even the Bible.
Thousands of articles from hundreds of publications, on topics ranging from business to technology to architecture, biology, sociology, education and more.
The Free Library
Contains several million items — from full-length works of literature to articles from newspapers, magazines and journals — all readable on the site.
Google’s News Archive Search
Type in a search term and not only see a timeline that indicates the term’s popularity over the years, but also find links to tons of news articles featuring the term. Access to the articles isn’t always free from the websites hosting them, but Google has a surprisingly large number of scanned papers available for free in its own archive.
A search engine for scholarly resources, divided into categories like business, medical sciences, government, physical sciences and humanities.
Internet Public Library
A huge selection of links to online sources on a wide variety of academic and cultural topics, including business, science, education, health, literature, art and law. The site is used so much that it even tells you how to cite it in a research paper.
Tons of great links on every imaginable subject, specifically chosen for researchers looking for reliable sources of information.
Library of Congress
Although you can’t access most of the items in the world’s largest library online, there’ still a wealth of information available through the site, especially when it comes to American history, government and law.
Martindale’s The Reference Desk
A bit unwieldy to navigate, but it contains a wealth of links to academic material in everything from quantum physics to aeronautics.
The largest historical newspaper database online, this site hosts millions of scanned pages of newspapers from America and around the world, dating all the way back to 1753. Fully searchable, the only drawback is you have to pay to see more than the front page of each paper.
Links to over 10,000 newspaper websites, including international and college papers, but you can’t search by topic.
Aims to be your all-in-one website, with built-in web search and bunches of links to newspapers, dictionaries, encyclopedias, almanacs, biographies, maps, various statistical information and much more.
Research and Documentation Online
Lots of quality links to sources both online and offline, plus instructions on proper formatting of citations in reserach papers and even several sample papers to show you how it’s done.
Unlike so many other print publications online, this iconic magazine allows free access to its archive of content, allowing you to search all the way back to 1923 for a fascinating glimpse into history.
U.S. Census Bureau
Lots of official US statistics on topics like population, demographics, housing, economics, geography and government spending.
Yes, Wikipedia. The most famous online encyclopedia is often the butt of jokes due to the occasionally dubious user-generated content, but moderators filter out the great majority of the nonsense, and although you shouldn’t use it as the only source, it’s a great place to start.